With John Lackey, Roy Halladay, Mike Cameron and Hideki Matsui removed from the market, and with former Red Sox Jason Bay poised to sign with the Mets, one cannot help but to wonder about Matt Holliday’s future. The market for his services has essentially thinned out in just a few days, as the BoSox — with a hole in left field — went with a defense-first approach by signing Cameron and Lackey, while the Mets seem more interested in Bay’s ability to pull the ball in Citi Field (they like his power more than Holliday’s). The Yankees, who were, at one point or another, rumored to be suitors for all of the aforementioned players, stood pat yesterday — they did not even attempt to match Matsui’s offer from the Halos — and many wonder whether or not the team is perhaps saving for the slugging Holliday.
This belief certainly makes sense, especially after Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune recently noted that other organizations were suspicious of the Yankees’ decision to publicize their desire to lower the club’s 2010 payroll. Apparently, to many, the indiscreet nature of the move seems more like a bargaining strategy rather than an actual gesture of impending financial restraint. However, if the Yankees are, indeed, saving their chips while quietly hoping and waiting for Matt Holliday’s price to fall, then Brian Cashman and co. could just be out of luck.
Last night, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Cardinals have “intensified discussions” with Holliday’s representation and that they have since altered their original offer, which was put forth last Wednesday, to the left fielder. Strauss notes that the newly revamped proposal — changes were made due to Scott Boras’ dislike of the initial offer — presented to Holliday is “worth around $16 million a season” over “at least eight seasons,” making it the richest offer in Cardinals history (that will change once Albert Pujols is a free agent, I’m sure). If Holliday were to accept the deal — and he would be crazy not to — then the Cardinals would be committed to paying the Oklahoma native $16 million when he’s 38 years old. Holliday seems to like long-term security and the proposal constructed by St. Louis, assuming that it features a no-trade clause, seems to provide him that and then some. On top of that, Strauss also states that Holliday “prefers a return to St. Louis,” according to a source “familiar with his thinking.”
For those who wish to see the burly batter in the Bronx next season, none of this is obviously good news. An eight-year deal worth $128 million is certainly a sizable contract to say the least. In fact, despite the Yankees’ seemingly endless supply of dollars, with a number of hefty deals of their own already in tow, it appears unlikely that the team would offer a similar contract, as an eight-year obligation is an extremely heavy burden (although $16 million per, at least for the first few years, would be a bargain for Holliday’s production). At this point, due to the sheer length of the proposal and the unlikelihood of receiving a similar offer, Holliday appears bound for St. Louis (yet again).
This, then — losing Matt Holliday — in all probability, means another year or two with Johnny Damon and, in addition to that, a deal for pitcher Ben Sheets (and possibly Nick Johnson for the role of DH). If the Yankees cannot use their funds on the best (i.e., most complete) free agent left fielder in the game, I would expect them to effectively spread those resources around in order to plug their current holes with short-term fixes. It’s not a bad route to take, however, after losing Hideki Matsui’s bat, it certainly not as productive, at least from an offensive point of view.
Photo by the AP
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